LANSING | In his first full year as village administrator, J. Wynsma oversaw the approval of an agreement that could result in a Super Walmart store opening this summer in the south suburban village.
Aside from the full-scale supermarket, shopping opportunities and additional jobs that will be created, Wynsma sees an extra benefit.
He hopes that the Walmart to be built on Torrence Avenue at the former site of a Sam's Club warehouse store will attract more businesses to locate in Lansing, particularly on Torrence Avenue where the village recently created a tax increment finance district to draw businesses to Lansing’s west side.
“To attract something of the quality of a Walmart is something we hope makes other businesses take notice of Lansing,” Wynsma said. “We hope this will serve as something that attracts more development to come to us in 2014.”
There will be some new development directly tied to the Walmart, since the one-time Babies ‘R’ Us store that also is on the same property is going to be partially demolished to create more parking for the Super Walmart store.
Yet the portion of the Babies ‘R’ Us structure that will remain will be altered so that it will have space for retail stores that will face to the east toward the new Walmart.
Wynsma said the structure’s owner, the Inland Group, is already in negotiations to attract businesses to the site, and that both Inland and Walmart have hired contractors for the demolition of the old structures.
For 2014, Wynsma said the focus for the village’s economic development will lie on Torrence Avenue rather than the downtown business district along Ridge Road from Burnham Avenue to State Line Road.
“We have had TIF districts for years to help downtown,” Wynsma said. “Now, we need to do things to boost Torrence, which offers great opportunities for businesses willing to locate there.”
Such development will include finding a replacement for the existing Walmart store at 16771 Torrence Ave., which will close once the Super Walmart opens.
But Wynsma said he is encouraged by the success of the Carson’s Clearance Center, an outlet store that opened just before Thanksgiving at 16727 Torrence Ave.
“It has been wildly successful, better than anyone anticipated,” said Wynsma. “It is doing so well that it is also going to draw more businesses to the area.”
Wynsma, who has been village administrator since October 2012, said he was pleased with the level of business that has come to Lansing since he has been on the job. Although he admits there is always room for improvement.
“I’m pleased that in a sluggish national economy, we have been able to build upon what we have and achieve some success in attracting business to Lansing,” said Wynsma.
“I can say I’m delighted, but I’m never satisfied,” he said.